Brethren Bits for January 23, 2016

Image courtesy of Long Green Valley Church
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren prepared for this weekend’s snowstorm by posting this sign on Facebook. The church is located in Glen Arm, Md., in the section of the mid-Atlantic coast that is getting the brunt of the heavy snow.

— Remembrance: Virginia (Ginny) M. Stockton, 87, a former mission worker in Nigeria and a former employee at Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), died on Jan. 12 at Peabody Retirement Community in North Manchester, Ind. She was born Feb. 14, 1928, in Logansport, Ind., to Howard and Alice (Moss) Johnson. She attended Manchester College for two years. She married Roger L. Ingold on June 22, 1947. In 1997 she married Richard Stockton, who died in 2003. In 1960 she and her family moved to Nigeria where she taught English and was secretary at the office of the Church of the Brethren mission. In 1975 she and her family moved to Elgin, Ill., and continued work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices. She was a full-time employee for the Pension Fund/General Board starting in Nov. 1983, and then retired from Brethren Benefit Trust on April 27, 1990, and moved to Fort Myers, Fla. She is survived by sons John (Gay) Ingold of North Manchester, and David (Rose) Ingold of Graff, Mo.; grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service was held on Monday, Jan. 18, at Peabody Chapel in North Manchester. Memorial gifts are received to the Peabody Caring Circle and the Peabody Chapel Endowment Fund.

— Steven M. Nolt has been named to succeed Donald B. Kraybill as senior scholar at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. Kraybill retired in July 2015. Nolt is a professor at Goshen (Ind.) College and holds a master’s degree from the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and a master’s and a doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He has taught courses in American history, Mennonite and Amish history, immigration, ethnic history, and North American Christianity, according to an announcement in “The Etownian,” the campus newspaper. He also is an author, and has contributed to 14 books. His next publication is titled “The Amish: A Concise Introduction,” and he is contracted to write “Anabaptists in America” for Columbia University Press’ Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series. He will begin at the Young Center on July 1.

— Brethren Press and MennoMedia seek a project director to oversee all aspects of Shine: Living in God’s Light, a multi-component Sunday school curriculum for ages 3 through grade 8 that invites children and junior youth to know of God’s love and to follow Jesus. The project director oversees all aspects of the curriculum and must have strong vision and leadership, planning and oversight skills. Responsibilities include editing and writing in ways that show theological depth, an awareness of multicultural diversity, and a commitment to inquiry-based learning. The project director must be able to research trends and supervise staff. A strong understanding of Christian education and curriculum, and experience teaching or administering programming for children or youth, are required. This is a full-time, salaried position for the duration of the curriculum, which is projected to be four to five years. Preference will be given to applicants who can work out of MennoMedia’s office in Elkhart, Ind. Click on “Job Openings” at for a complete job description and application form. Contact for more information. The application reviews begin in March.

— The deadline to get an “early bird” registration discount for National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) is Jan. 31. The Youth and Young Adult Ministry office reminds young adults ages 18-35, to register before the end of January to receive the discount. Although a young adult conference is held annually, NYAC is an expanded event offered every few years. Dates for the 2016 NYAC are May 27-30. Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., will host the conference on the theme, “Creating Harmony.” Through Jan. 31 registration costs $200, going up to $250 beginning Feb. 1. Find registration and more information at .

— The Global Mission and Service office seeks prayer for a delegation of six Church of the Brethren members traveling to South Sudan to visit church and community partners there. Along with Annual Conference moderator Andy Murray, the group includes former Sudan mission worker Roger Schrock, Leon Neher, Linda Zunkel, Eli Mast, and Brent Carlson. The group arrived in Juba on Jan. 20 and will depart from there on Feb. 1. They plan to visit the Africa Inland Church, the South Sudan Council of Churches, and refugee and educational ministries supported by the Church of the Brethren, staying at the Brethren Peace Center in Torit. Hosting the group will be Global Mission and Service worker Athanasus Ungang. “Pray for God’s protective presence to surround the group and for peace to prevail in all of South Sudan,” said the request.

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is highlighting one of its project sites each week with a Facebook post. Recent posts feature Gould Farm in Monterey, Mass., America’s original community for psychiatric rehabilitation in an open setting on 700 acres of farm and woodlands; and the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Tochigi-ken, Japan, an international training ground for grassroots rural leaders. “Christian in inspiration, ARI openly invites people of all religions,” the BVS post notes. Volunteers at Gould Farm fill work-leader positions in specific areas, supporting guests in tasks such as dairy and animal husbandry, cheese-making, auto mechanics, organic gardening, food services, and maintenance; and also serve on the residential team, supporting guests with daily living skills, activities, recreation, and overnight sleep coverage. At ARI BVSers fully participate in this international community together with staff and participants, with each volunteer assigned to a specific section and area of work such as the farm (livestock and crops), meal service, computers systems, publications (writing and layout design), recruitment, graduate outreach, and maintenance of machines and facilities. Find the BVS Facebook page at . Find out more about how to become a BVS volunteer at .

— Worship resources are now available for Service Sunday 2016 on the theme “Blazing with Holiness” (1 Peter 1:13-16, The Message). This special Sunday, with the suggested date of Feb. 7, is an annual occasion to celebrate and encourage service to others in the name of Christ. Worship resources are written by Brethren Volunteer Service workers, and include reflections and poetry alongside litanies, prayers, and more. The free online resources also include a downloadable poster. Go to .

—  La Place (Ill.) Church of the Brethren was named “Church of the Week” by the “Herald and Review” newspaper. The review noted the church’s outreach activities, history, and welcome to visitors. Pastor Joe Harley is quoted as saying: “The members walk in love, congregation is small enough to know and enter into a caring atmosphere. Several activities are spaced throughout the year to keep you active and allowing you to minister to others.”

— The public is invited to events on Sunday, Feb. 7, led by Shawn Kirchner at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. The morning worship service at 9:30 a.m. will feature his leadership, and will be followed by a time of reflection and a sing-along from 11 a.m.-12 noon. That evening, he will perform at a Coffeehouse at the church from 7-9 p.m. Kirchner is a musician and composer and member of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, who will be coordinating music for the 2016 Annual Conference. He participates in the Los Angeles Master Chorale. An album to which he contributed was nominated for a Grammy award this year. Titled “Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings,” the album by choral ensemble Conspirare includes two of Kirchner’s choral settings of poems by Neruda. For more information about the events at Highland Avenue Church contact .

— Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va., is lifting Jesus up through “Antioch on the Radio,” said a recent newsletter from the congregation. The sermons at the Antioch Church are rebroadcast on the radio by WBTX 1470AM and 102.1FM, every Sunday from 12:30-1 p.m. George Bowers is pastor of the church, and Stephanie Heishman-Litten is associate pastor. “Share the news with others and invite them to listen in!” said the announcement.

— Summer campers from First Church of the Brethren in Brooklyn, N.Y., painted fire hydrants around the community this past summer. Pastor Jonathan Bream shared a note in the Winter 2015 newsletter from the assistant speaker for New York, Felix W. Ortiz, whose office coordinated the effort with the city’s Department of Environment Protection. “Their volunteer effort will keep our community safer by making the hydrants more visible ensuring accessibility to firefighters,” the newsletter said. “The campers undertook the joy of painting the hydrants from 64th to 60th Streets between 3rd and 5th Ave. Thank you to all who participated!

— Goshen (Ind.) City Church of the Brethren is thanking the many people who responded on short notice to collect one-gallon plastic containers for the Time for Children in worship on Jan. 17. “Our children pulled together 28 gallon containers to visualize the abundant amount provided by Jesus,” said the church newsletter. “Twenty to thirty gallons filled the big barrel when Jesus turned the water to fine wine in John 2. And Jesus filled six barrels…. This shows how Jesus takes the ordinary, such as each of us, and turns us into the extraordinary.”

— South/Central Indiana District’s Program and Arrangements Committee has issued an invitation to a Ted & Co. performance of “12 Baskets and a Goat” on Feb. 26, at 7 p.m., at Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis. Performances of “12 Baskets and a Goat” benefit Heifer International and are a joint effort of Ted & Co. with the Global Mission and Service of the Church of the Brethren, hosted by Brethren congregations. The district invitation noted, “More than 70 years ago, Dan West, a member of the Elkhart Valley Church of the Brethren, dreamed of a day when all people would have enough to eat. Heifer Project was begun with a load of heifers from Indiana and Ohio that was sent to Puerto Rico. That means that Heifer International is part of the Church of the Brethren legacy. Heifer International has grown, and today movie stars and children share gifts with Heifer so that people have food.” The Feb. 26 performance will feature “The Jesus Stories: Faith, Forks, and Fettuccini,” written and performed by Ted Swartz and Jeff Raught. Two intervals will be held to auction off baskets of breads to support Heifer International. District members and congregations are invited to provide a basket and be present to bid in the auction.

— A leadership training event focused on dealing with disagreement and differences is planned by Western Plains District on Feb. 22-24, with continuing education units available to ministers. The event, which also is being publicized by neighboring districts including Missouri and Arkansas, is planned for pastors, congregational, and district leaders to provide transformational training. “Difference and disagreement are normal and inevitable,” said an announcement. “However, many of us feel ill prepared to handle conflict within our faith communities. We will examine how to transform conflict into spiritual and community renewal, focusing on: biblical and theological principles, congregations as family systems, levels of conflict within faith communities, structured dialogue in high-anxiety situations, assessment tools, reconciliation.” The event takes place at the Heartland Center in Great Bend, Kan. Gary Flory and Robert Yutzy from the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College in Newton, Kan., will be the resource people. For more information contact Kendra Flory at the Western Plains District Office at or 620-241-4240.

— The Inter-District Youth Cabinet (IYC) at Bridgewater (Va.) College is leading two events in February for senior high youth and their advisors, on the theme “Some Assembly Required” (Matthew 6:19-34). The first event on Feb. 6-7 is for high schoolers in Virlina District, hosted at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va.; fee for the overnight event is $10 per person, contact . The second event is on Feb. 19-21 for high schoolers in Shenandoah District, hosted by Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center near Keezletown, Va.; go to for more information.

— Among four new members of the Manchester University Board of Trustees is Madalyn Metzger, a member of Goshen (Ind.) City Church of the Brethren, according to a release from the university. Others joining the board are Michael J. Packnett, president and CEO at Parkview Health; Ding-Jo Hsia Currie, past president of Coastline Community College, and currently a professor in the doctoral education leadership program at California State University-Fullerton; and William “Mark” Rosenbury, a retired renewables and environment professional with extensive experience in public service and volunteering. Metzger leads the marketing and communications direction and vision for Everence Financial in Goshen, including the company’s investment, asset management, charitable services, health, and retirement and credit union products. In 2015, she received the Everence Financial Commitment to Excellence Award, as part of the company’s Financial Planning Leadership Group. Previously she worked in fundraising communication for Church World Service. She also is an advocate for peace and justice and has been a board member of On Earth Peace, where she served as chair 2008-13, and has served on the advisory board for New Community Project from 2006-09. In 2008, she was recognized as one of 40 young professionals younger than 40 in northern Indiana and southern Michigan. She is a member of the American Marketing Association and Anabaptist Communicators. She is a 1999 Manchester graduate, with a degree in interpersonal and organizational communication. Find the complete release at .

— Presentations this winter at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College explore a 1762 German hymnal, Amish attitudes about vaccinations, and the biblical story of Jacob. At 7 p.m. on Feb. 11, Church of the Brethren linguist and hymnologist Hedda Durnbaugh discusses “The Schwenkfelder Hymnal of 1762 and its Unique Place in German Hymnody.” Christine Nelson-Tuttle, associate professor of nursing at St. John Fisher College, discusses “Assessing Vaccination Receptivity in the Old Order Amish in Cattaraugus County, N.Y.” at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 23. “Gender, Shame, and Jacob’s Hip: One Communal Society’s Views” is a presentation by Jeff Bach, Young Center director and religious studies professor, at 7:30 p.m. on March 15. Bach will discuss the Ephrata Community’s unique interpretation of the biblical story of Jacob, that allowed it to criticize patriarchy and male domination. The lectures, held in the Bucher Meetinghouse, are free. Contact the Young Center at 717-361-1470 or .

— Henry H. Gibbel, and his wife, Joanie, have donated $500,000 to Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., to fund an artificial turf soccer field and stadium, according to a release from the college. Henry Gibbel is a member of Lititz Church of the Brethren, director of the Mutual Aid Association of the Church of the Brethren, and past chairman and director emeritus for the Brethren Village Retirement and Health Care Community. He retired as chair of the Juniata Board of Trustees in 2006, receiving the John C. Baker Award for Exemplary Service, and is chair of Lititz Mutual Insurance Co. He is a past chairman of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and secretary/treasurer and past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. He received the 1981 Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. He is a retired director of Susquehanna Bancshares Inc. He and his wife have been contributors to Juniata College since he graduated in 1957. In 2002 they sponsored the Henry and Joan Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching. They have donated to the soccer project because almost all of their eight grandchildren have played soccer–three in college and another in college and professionally. The new facility will be called the Henry H. and Joanie R. Gibbel Stadium and will be part of a $3.5 million Winton Hill Athletic Complex that also will include six tennis courts, a locker room and office, a grandstand with enclosed press box, and stadium lights for the soccer and tennis locations. “Soccer continues to gain on football as the fall sport of choice for men and the number of women who continue to flock to the game is increasing,” said Greg Curley, athletic director. “Tennis is also growing in popularity again. The Winton Hill complex truly has the potential to transform Juniata’s ability to meet our ambitious enrollment goals.” The complex will be located behind Nathan Hall at the intersection of College Avenue and Cold Springs Road. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin this spring.

— The annual meeting and dinner of CrossRoads, a Brethren and Mennonite heritage center in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, will be held Feb. 5, starting at 6:30 p.m., hosted by Dayton (Va.) Mennonite Church. John D. Roth, professor of history at Goshen (Ind.) College and editor of “The Mennonite Quarterly Review” will be the guest speaker on the topic “Tap Root or Rhizome? Retelling the Brethren and Mennonite Stories as if the Global Church Mattered.” The meal will be prepared by Janet Wenger. Also on the program are updates about the center and information about capital projects. There is no cost for the meal. Contributions will be received for the CrossRoads Annual Fund. Make reservations at or call 540-438-1275.

— Leaders of the worldwide Orthodox churches are meeting Jan. 21-28 in Geneva, Switzerland, to prepare for a Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church to occur later this year. All of the top Orthodox leaders are expected to attend, with a few exceptions due to health concerns, said a release from the World Council of Churches. Preparation for the Great and Holy Council has been decades in the making. The release reported that the agenda was formulated 40 years ago, in November 1976, by the Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference.

— Don Shank, 92, was interviewed by the Elgin “Courier News” about his experience of marching with Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights movement. He is an ordained minister and hospital chaplain, retired from the pastorate at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. He was instrumental in establishing an annual Sunday of joint worship between Highland Avenue and Elgin’s Second Baptist Church, a majority Black congregation led by pastor Nathaniel Edmond. “If there was a kind of principle we learned from Dr. King, it was equality for all,” Edmond told the newspaper. “If the church cannot do it we can’t expect the rest of the world to do it.” Read more at .

— Meredith Balsbaugh of Midway Church of the Brethren is one of the Elco High School seniors named Myerstown-Elco Rotary Club Students of the Month for January, in the Lebanon (Pa.) “Daily News.” She is the daughter of Mike and Becky Balsbaugh, and among her many other activities is a junior church teacher, a member of the church’s praise team, and has helped with Vacation Bible School and the Lebanon Project for the Needy. See .


Photo courtesy of Lakewood Church of the Brethren
Oscar Garner


— Oscar Garner, a lifelong member of Lakewood Church of the Brethren in Milbury, Ohio, will turn 100 on Feb. 10. A party in his honor will be held Feb. 14 at Otterbein Portage Valley where Garner resides, said an announcement from Barbara Wilch at the Lakewood Church. Garner was born on a farm in Walbridge, Ohio, during World War I. The story of his life, shared by Wilch, notes that the bell from the Frog Pond School where he started first grade is the bell that wakes up campers at Inspiration Hills, a Church of the Brethren camp. Garner is the only living member of his high school graduating class. His father, George Garner, was the first permanent preacher at Black Swamp Church of the Brethren, now the Lakewood Church. Garner enjoyed 63 and a half years of marriage to Florice Loop, beginning in 1940 when they were wed. During World War II, Garner continued to follow his faith with his conscientious objector stand, going overseas first to New Guinea where he was told to prepare for the invasion of Japan. After Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945, he was sent home. A few years ago he was honored as a member of the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. He spent his working career at DuPont where he got a job as a “paint shader” or color analyst. He and his wife never had children, Wilch reported, “but loved and cared for many others’ children and always tried to help others.” He has been a trustee and treasurer for the Lakewood Church, a Sunday school teacher, and a driver for campers going to Camp Mack in Indiana. When Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio, was rebuilt, he served on that board as chair. “Church of the Brethren molded much of Oscar Garner and in turn Oscar has witnessed for Church of the Brethren throughout his life,” said Wilch’s report. “Praise God!”


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